Wednesday Comments – Grading Green Lanterns

This should be a great time to be a Green Lantern fan. There are five Green Lantern related books on the market, with Hal, Guy, John and Kyle all starring in their own titles. Green Lantern is a genuine franchise and it’s never been stronger.

I’ve been a Green Lantern fan for decades, so why aren’t I happier?

Well, it’s because the direction of the books just isn’t that great.

Now lest you think I’m a spoiled fanboy who doesn’t like change, I’ve actually witnessed huge changes to the Green Lantern Corps before (most notably Green Lantern #200, Green Lantern Corps #224 and Emerald Twilight) so this isn’t my first rodeo.

When the Guardians departed realty for a booty call with the Zamarons and seven Green Lanterns set up their Citadel on Earth, I was totally cool with that. When the Green Lantern Corps was destroyed as a failsafe triggered when they killed Sinestro, I bothered me none. When Hal Jordan, the character who brought me into comics, went crazy and killed fellow Lanterns on his way to attack the Guardians and destroy the Corps, I was fine with it.

So changes in status quo doesn’t bother me.

But the current storyline running through the Green Lantern books, specifically Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps, feels super forced. The basic thrust of the storyline is that the universe is turning against the Green Lantern Corps. With the demise of the Guardians, Hal has assumed leadership of the Corps. He’s making unpopular decisions. Also there’s an alien threat that is actively trying to undermine the Corps and turn the universe against it.

The problem is that the storyline feels rushed which makes some things feel forced. Granted the storyline isn’t over yet, so I could get better, but based on the direction that it’s headed in, I’m not hopeful.

Personally I feel like the story would have flowed better if Hal felt pressured to assume leadership of the Corps and thought he was saving it by doing so. And then, because he’s so not cut out for leadership, he makes a series of poor decisions that lead to tarnishing the image of the GLC, causing the universe to turn against them. And then in the final part of the storyline it’s revealed that Hal was manipulated into a) taking leadership of the Corps and b) making the wrong decisions by a Lantern he trusted who was actually a plant by [insert forgotten Green Lantern villain here].

Oh, you want an actual villain? Um, let’s say Malvolio.

Instead we get a storyline where Durlans are planting the seeds against the Corps and impersonating Hal. While Hal’s still making poor decisions, he’s doing them on his own. It’s become a bit of a chore to read month in and month out.

Green Lantern Grade: D

Green Lantern Corps, while still dealing with the universe against the Corps, does have two things going for it. First it’s got John Stewart in his first starring role in quite some time. Secondly, on of the storylines it’s dealing with is the former prisoners of the Sciencells that were released prior to the destruction of Oa.

I can’t front; I was pretty geeked out seeing a Faceless Hunter in Green Lantern Corps #27. The issue also had appearances by Evil Star (one of my favorite GL foes), Kanjar Ro, Bolphunga the Unrelenting, Starbreaker and even a Zegor. So the longtime GL fan within me really enjoyed that Green Lantern Corps is taking some steps to acknowledge the history.

Green Lantern Corps Grade: C-

Green Lantern: New Guardians is interesting for a couple reasons. Because Kyle Rayner is thought to be dead by most of the universe, he’s pretty divorced from the whole “universe hates Green Lanterns” story that’s current unfolding. There’s also the mystery of who is coming that Kyle needs to prepare for. At the very least it’s a palette cleaner after reading Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps.

Green Lantern: New Guardians Grade: C

Far and away my favorite book of the Green Lantern line is Red Lanterns. As much as I loved Peter Tomasi adding layers to Guy Guardner, I grew up with Guy Gardner as a jerk and Red Lanterns sees a sort of return to form in that regard. It’s fun to see Guy as an anti-hero in his own right, not just in comparison to Hal and the others.

Also, (spoiler alert) Ratchet’s death actually touched me. Credit to Charles Soule, in a medium and genre were death is pretty commonplace, Ratchet’s death had actual emotional heft and made me mourn a character, a completely alien character. I can’t recall the last time a comic book death caught me off guard and actually hit me.

Red Lanterns Grade: B+

As for Larfleeze, I dropped that book two issues in.

Larfleeze Grade: Incomplete

And that’s why I’m not rejoicing this renaissance that Green Lantern is undergoing. The quality just isn’t there. Much like the Green Lantern movie, it’s a mixed blessing. Yes I’ve always wanted more Green Lantern titles on the market, but I always hoped they’d be better than they are in reality. I’ve actually reached a point when I’m considering dropping Green Lantern and it’s a title that I’ve got hundreds of issue of and have collected for decades.

But I’m an optimist; hopefully things will get better.

On that note, it’s Wednesday go out and buy some fresh new comics from your local comic shop.

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